Monday, April 21, 2014
“He was an honest, decent, caring, and courageous man. He was truly a good man.” — Francis Carrington, “The Death of a Good Man”
In my younger, non-Christian, and much more selfish years, I never believed that any of the above description would ever apply to me for it certainly didn’t then. It is also true that that description is not one that you would apply to yourself—it is the way someone else must describe you. We all know people who fit that description be they men or women. The problem is that while we might describe them like the above to others, we would never tell the persons themselves. I don’t know about other countries, but Americans like to compliment people behind their backs. We seldom tell anyone that we admire and respect that we do just that. The why of our reluctance to compliment those whose lives serve as role models for us is complicated, yet it is true that we just don’t say the words, however kind and true they might be. I got a truly unexpected gift yesterday when a man that I admire and respect (perhaps more so than any man I know) used the words above almost verbatim in describing me and explaining why he was honored to call me his friend and to pledge his loyalty to me and offer any help I might need. It is one thing to hear kind words from those you don’t really know and quite another to hear them from an authoritative and highly respected source who has known you for years, recent years. I have had a few standing ovations in my life. When I was an actor in high school, when I made speeches in college, and even for the occasional sermon from a Catholic church in Boston to a very large church in Arkansas, but those are easy to dismiss as approval for a performance and not for the traits that make a person what he or she is. What I was told yesterday, I cannot judge to be true or not, but there is no doubt that a person I hold in high regard was sincere in his sentiments. It was good to hear, yet set a bar high and hard to maintain. I don’t think the man who told me those things will ever know how important, how validating, and how uplifting what he said was for me. I know people for whom the quote above describes, but never thought anyone would ever say it of me. I am thankful and I am humbled. Living as Christ has called me to live has changed me. Forever. Permanently. Thank God.